Texas lawmakers seek new gay marriage vote

Feb. 18, 2013 at 5:06 PM

AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Despite strong public sentiment against it, some Texas lawmakers are seeking a repeal of the state's ban of gay marriage.

Texas voters in 2005 passed an amendment to the state Constitution excluding same-sex couples from the definition of marriage. State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, has introduced a bill at the beginning of every legislative session since then, seeking to have another vote. The difference this time, the Austin American-Statesman reported Monday, is that he's got a colleague in the state Senate introducing a companion bill.

Coleman said he hoped evolving national sentiment on the issue would lead his colleagues to authorize another vote.

"What better time to start to repeal the ban on same-sex civil unions and marriage than the present?" he asked. "It's not whether [the repeal] happens, it's when it happens."

That may still be a long time, if public opinion polls are to be believed. Though Gallup for the first time in 2011 found more than half of Americans support gay marriage nationally, that number is much lower in conservative Texas. Just 36 percent of Texans said they support gay and lesbian couples getting married. Thirty-three percent said they supported civil unions.

Gay marriage opponents said the likelihood of passing legislation providing for a new referendum is nil in the Republican-controlled state Legislature.

"People are entitled to it if they want to have the discussion, but it is not going to happen," said Jonathan Saenz, president of the conservative group Texas Values. "The numbers aren't there in the [Texas] House or the Senate."

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